SAUGUS (CBS) — A Danvers vape store owner has become the first to sue the state in an attempt to get a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in Massachusetts overturned.
With his attorney at his side, Behram Agha marched into Suffolk Superior Court seeking a temporary court injunction and naming Gov. Charlie Baker as one of the defendants.
“I don’t know what to do. Seven years of hard work gone in five minutes,” Agha said.
The closed sign is up at VaporZone in Saugus, one of four stores he owns, where inventory is being boxed and 11 employees have been laid off, including Sonia Aslam.
“Instead of doing an overnight ban he (Gov. Baker) didn’t let employees like us and shop owners prepare what to do for the next four months,” said Aslam.
Fearing bankruptcy, Agha is asking a judge to lift the order, his attorney calling the public health emergency an arbitrary decision that came with no notice.
“It’s an arbitrary declaration based on slim data that has been provided. It seems to be a manufactured crisis,” said attorney Craig Rourke.
In declaring the temporary ban this week, Gov. Baker cited medical experts’ concerned about growing cases of vaping-related illnesses and deaths in some states. Today he reiterated the immediate need for time to investigate.
“We considered all available issues including issues associated with economic dislocation,” Baker said. “Once we met with all the medical experts, to do nothing was not a viable option.”
At VaporZone, inventory continued to arrive along with outraged customers. “Those cigarettes saved my life,” said a long-time customer who would only identify herself as Sandy.
Jay Rivera is one of eleven VaporZone employees that will soon be out of a job. “After we clean up all the stores basically I ain’t got no job,” Rivera said. “It’s very stressful cause I got four kids at home and a wife so it’s tough.”
Behram Agha hopes to have his day in court soon. “We can only sustain one or two more days. After that there is no way we can recover.”